School, Foundation honour Uyinene’s legacy

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Speak up even when your voice shakes, even when your voice trembles, even when it’s difficult.

Kingswood College recently week hosted the inaugural Uyinene Mrwetyana Commemorative Lecture in partnership with the Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation. 

The annual event, held for the first time on Monday, 29 March 2021, is intended to  celebrate the life and legacy of Uyinene around the time of her birthday each year – “a keen academic, a born leader, a talented musician, a smile that lit up a whole room – this was Uyinene Mrwetyana” the school said in a statement.  

Uyinene was raped and murdered in Claremont, Cape Town, on 24 August 2019. Aged 19, she was a student at the University of Cape Town. She completed her matric at Kingswood College.

Uyinene was known to be inquisitive, forthright and vocal about South Africa’s social ills.

“Although the Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation was born out of tragedy, the Foundation serves as a vehicle to champion those who find themselves voiceless and provides a platform from which individuals can feel safe to speak out, to stand up and to hopefully, make meaningful changes to society,” the school said. 

In 2020, Kingswood College partnered with the Foundation to facilitate conversations with pupils from Grade 6 to Matric to talk about gender based violence.

At the Commemorative Lecture held on Monday 29 March, Kingswood College Head, Dr Colleen Vassiliou, renewed Kingswood’s commitment to partner with the Foundation and its work and handed over funds raised by Kingswood learners last year.

Keynote speaker for the inaugural lecture was Dr Alude Mahali, a Chief Research Specialist in the Inclusive Economic Development (IED) Programme at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and who also serves on the advisory committee of the Foundation. 

Her talk emphasised that gender based violence and other social injustices are not issues the Foundation or an individual can tackle in insolation.

“Each one of us has a responsibility to do what we can, wherever we can. We must not be silent. We must speak up when we are called upon to do so. Speak up even when your voice shakes, even when your voice trembles, even when it’s difficult. Be fair, remain open, remain committed to listening to viewpoints that are different from your own and be inquisitive about that difference,” Mahali said. 

Mahali challenged those in attendance to learn how to listen and engage  with others on a deeper, and more meaningful level. “It is in these uncomfortable spaces where we grow and learn the most,” she said. “We must learn to not fear change and we must be willing to have our own ideologies challenged when having difficult conversations. Together we can work toward creating a safer and more equal South Africa.”

Mahali said Uyinene’s legacy was one of “activism, of change, of empathy, of hope, of honesty, of compassion and of justice”.

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